Frequently Asked Questions
Cunningham Bounds is here to help you navigate the complex legal process surrounding whatever you are facing. Our skilled Alabama personal injury attorney team wholeheartedly supports and guides our clients, advocating for maximum compensation on their behalf.
Below, we provide answers to the following questions:
- What does “no fee guarantees” & “no fee if no recovery” mean?
- I’ve been contacted by someone who claims to know my family and wants to call a specific lawyer. Should I trust this individual?
- Do all personal injury lawyers offer free consultations?
- Will all personal injury lawyers meet me at home or in the hospital?
- A lawyer showed up at my hospital room, claiming to be sent by a friend. What should I do?
- Do I even need a plaintiff lawyer?
- How long will my case take?
- What is my case worth?
- Do I have to file a lawsuit to recover?
- How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
- Do insurance companies care who my lawyer is?
- What are the best criteria for evaluating a plaintiff law firm?
Since 1984, our firm has secured billions on behalf of our clients and continues to uphold that tradition of success. If you or a loved one are going through a difficult time and need legal guidance, don’t hesitate to contact our firm. We offer free case evaluations and are backed by extensive resources.
What Does “No Fee Guarantees” & “No Fee If No Recovery” Mean?
Nearly every personal injury attorney in the United States offers a “no fee guarantee.” All this means is that the firm will not charge you a single fee unless they recover compensation on your behalf. This is also referred to as a contingent fee.
A contingent fee means that the fee is “contingent” upon the success of the lawyer in obtaining compensation on behalf of his client. Personal injury lawyers accept a fixed percentage of the recovery (which is the total amount awarded to the client).
If the attorney does not win the case on your behalf, neither party receives any money, but you are not required to pay your attorney for the work they have done.
I’ve Been Contacted by Someone Who Claims to Know My Family and Wants to Call a Specific Lawyer. Should I Trust This Individual?
No. It would be a huge mistake to trust a stranger with what could easily be one of the most important decisions your family ever makes.
The fact is, some unethical personal injury lawyers hire “case runners” or “gophers” to hang around hospitals or scan through publicly available accident reports. These gophers will then contact the families of people who have been injured in an effort to sign up clients for the lawyer who pays them. The contact may be face-to-face or over the telephone. You may receive a card in your mailbox or a letter. You may receive a text message or a Facebook post. Sometimes these gophers will even show up in person at an injured person’s hospital room.
This type of activity is illegal in Alabama. It is also disgraceful to the practice of law. The vast majority of lawyers and law firms that use “case runners” or “gophers” are settlement factories that rely on a high volume of cases that can be quickly settled, even if the settlement amount is far less than the true value of the case.
Do All Personal Injury Lawyers Offer Free Consultations?
Yes. There is absolutely nothing special about a plaintiff lawyer offering a free consultation. This is standard practice. Before you arrange to meet with a lawyer, do your own research. Gain a feel for the plaintiff law firms that have a long-standing history in your community. Ask friends who have experience with a catastrophic injury. Ask friends who work for a law firm or work at the courthouse. Ask them for the names of three law firms they would call if injured. This will better help you narrow down a trusted firm that will go the extra mile on your behalf.
Will All Personal Injury Lawyers Meet Me at Home or in the Hospital?
Plaintiff lawyers understand that a potential client’s injuries may make it difficult to travel to the lawyer’s office. It is very common to have an initial attorney-client meeting at the client’s home or in the hospital. However, it is advisable to research a plaintiff lawyer before meeting in person.
It is helpful to start by looking at the lawyer’s profile on the firm’s website. Look at the other members of the plaintiff lawyer’s firm. Look at the firm’s results. Call the firm and ask them to mail you a packet of materials. Ask friends about the law firm. In short, do your homework.
A Lawyer Showed Up at My Hospital Room, Claiming to Be Sent by a Friend. What Should I Do?
Most of us have heard the phrase “ambulance chaser.” It is used negatively for a reason. It is unethical for a lawyer to directly contact a person who has been injured.
Sometimes these lawyers or their law firm will mail you a “solicitation letter” in which they indicate they are ready to represent you. There is a firm in Alabama who supposedly obtains traffic accident reports for every crash in the State and then sends a solicitation letter to every person involved in each car crash.
Sometimes these lawyers may send someone to contact you on their behalf. The person may pose as a “friend” or a “friend of a friend.” Again, this type of activity is illegal in Alabama. It gives the legal profession a bad reputation, and rightfully so. There are actually still some plaintiff lawyers and plaintiff law firms who deeply believe in protecting the rights of injured people. But there are other plaintiff lawyers who only believe in making a quick buck.
Do I Even Need a Plaintiff Lawyer?
This answer largely depends on your individual circumstances. If you have suffered very minor injuries that did not require any medical treatment, you may be able to resolve your personal injury claim with the wrongdoer’s insurance company for a fair amount. However, if you have suffered serious injuries that required hospitalization, surgical intervention, or substantial medical treatment, you will almost certainly benefit from having a plaintiff law firm assist you.
How Long Will My Case Take?
It varies. Every case is different. If a lawyer promises you that your case will be resolved by a certain time, run the other way! That lawyer is probably wildly inexperienced or not trustworthy – or both.
Rushing your case to resolution can be a huge mistake. Until you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), it would not be advisable to resolve any case. This makes sense: How can you know what the future holds until you have a solid understanding of what your long-term medical condition will be? And how can you know the value of your case until you know what your long-term medical condition will be?
If your attorney is rushing you or pressuring you to settle your claim, you are most likely represented by a settlement factory. Know this: Patience is one of the most important ingredients to obtaining a full and fair recovery.
What is My Case Worth?
It depends. There are a number of factors that dictate the value of a personal injury claim and a wrongful death claim: the location where the injury occurred, the age of the plaintiff, the type of defendant, the extent of injuries, the amount of available insurance, the plaintiff’s job, the type of wrongful conduct involved, and so on.
If a plaintiff lawyer tells you what your case is worth at the first meeting, run the other way! No experienced plaintiff lawyer will be able to give you even a realistic range as to the value of your case until a significant amount of investigative and analytical work is performed. A plaintiff lawyer will need to obtain medical records, meet with witnesses, examine physical evidence, monitor your medical improvement, and explore in detail numerous other factors about your case before a fair value can be determined.
A plaintiff lawyer who tells you the value of your case early on will probably say or do anything to sign you up. Is that the kind of plaintiff lawyer you want representing you or your family?
Do I Have to File a Lawsuit to Recover?
Not necessarily. Some cases can be favorably resolved before a lawsuit is filed. Whether filing a lawsuit is necessary to obtain a full recovery depends on the specific circumstances of your case.
Often, insurance carriers will not take a claim seriously until a lawsuit is filed. For instance, settlement factories rarely file lawsuits and actually litigate cases. Many insurance carriers believe that until a lawsuit is filed, they can avoid paying anywhere close to full value. A law firm with trial experience generally knows which cases should be filed immediately and which cases stand a reasonable chance of being resolved on fair terms before a lawsuit is filed.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
It depends. Every state has a very specific statute of limitations, or deadline, for filing various types of claims. The deadline will provide a window of time within which a lawsuit must be filed. The statute of limitations varies depending on the type of claim, where it occurred, and the type of defendant.
It is vitally important to be aware of the statute of limitations in your state and in the state where any alleged wrongful conduct occurred. If you have any questions about the applicable deadline, it is important to seek legal guidance from an experienced plaintiff law firm at your earliest convenience. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Do Insurance Companies Care Who My Lawyer is?
Yes. Whenever an insurance company first receives notice of a serious injury claim or a wrongful death claim, one of the first questions asked is: “Who represents the plaintiff?”
A well-established firm can go a long way in securing recovery for a client. At Cunningham Bounds, we have been representing clients since 1958 and have recovered billions in verdicts and settlements on their behalf. The opposition knows that we mean business when we take up a case against them.
What Are the Best Criteria for Evaluating a Plaintiff Law Firm?
Before choosing a plaintiff law firm, it’s important to carefully evaluate them, not only to see if they are a trustworthy, dependable firm, but also to see if they are the right firm to handle your individual case. Many attorneys promise big results, but don’t have the experience or previous results to back up their claims.
When evaluating a plaintiff law firm, here are 10 criteria to consider:
- History of Jury Verdicts
- How Long the Firm Has Existed
- Types of Cases Taken to Trial
- Whether the Firm Has Board Certified Trial Lawyers
- Whether the Firm is Rated by Benchmark Litigation
- Whether the Firm is Rated by Best Lawyers
- Whether the Firm is Rated by Super Lawyers
- Whether the Firm Has Martindale AV-Rated Lawyers
- Whether the Firm Actually Tries Cases to Verdict
- Whether the Firm Has Past Clients from Jury Trials that Favorably Endorse the Firm